MicroWorlds is a program that uses the Logo programming language to teach language, mathematics, programing, and robotics concepts in primary and secondary education. It features an object in the shape of a turtle that can be given commands to move around the screen drawing shapes, creating animations, and playing games. The program's use of Logo is part of a large set of dialects and implementations created by Seymour Papert aimed at triggering the development of abstract ideas by children through experimentation. MicroWorlds is developed by Logo Computer Systems Inc. (LCSI) and released for Windows and Mac computers.
The precursors to MicroWorlds were the programs Apple Logo, Atari Logo, and LogoWriter released by LCSI for the Macintosh, Atari 8-bit family, and IBM Personal Computer in the 1980s. The first version to bear the MicroWorlds name was released in 1993 for DOS and Mac called MicroWorlds Project Builder. Two modules were released to accompany the software called "Math Links" and "Language Arts."
MicroWorlds 2.0 was released in 1996 for Windows 95 and in 1998 for Mac. Modules for weather and plants were released in 1997, as well as an internet browser plugin to view projects in Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator without the full software installed. Spanish and Portuguese editions were released under the name MicroMundos.
MicroWorlds Pro, an advanced version intended for high school students, was released in 1999 for Windows 95/98/NT and in 2000 for Mac.
MicroWorlds EX, the current iteration of the software, was released in 2003 for Windows 98 and up (currently supported for Windows 7 and up), and in 2004 for Mac OS X. A “Robotics edition” was released for both platforms that worked with Lego RCX programmable bricks and the Handy Cricket microcontroller system. An "Exploring Math" module intended for Grades 4-7 was released in 2005 and a "Computer Science" module released in 2013. The program has been made available in French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Armenian, and Greek. MicroWorlds EX will not work with macOS 10.15 or higher due to requiring 32-bit support.
MicroWorlds relies on Logo, a computer programing language based on words and syntax that are intended to be easy to learn and remember. The software is able to execute multiple tasks independently, can import pictures, and create multimedia projects like games and simulations.
Users write code in a dialect of the Logo programing language to move a customizable cursor (initially in the shape of a turtle), draw shapes, or to make dialog boxes appear. The user may write code in one of two areas of the program, using the program's "command module" to execute short commands immediately or the "procedure page" for more complex sets of instructions that can be stored and referenced at any time.
MicroWorlds is used as the main component of the curriculum used by OpenWorld Learning, an educational non-profit based in Denver, Colorado, that as of 2016 operated 11 elementary sites and three middle school sites in the Denver area. The organization provides a free after-school program to students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.
- "Logo Software and Hardware". Logo Foundation. MIT. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
- "MicroWorlds Support Documentation". Internet Archive of MicroWorlds website. Archived from the original on 3 February 2002. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
- "Welcome to LCSI". www.microworlds.com. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
- "Press Release Archive". MicroWorlds. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
- "OpenWorld Learning – Creating Possibilities Through Technology". OpenWorld Learning. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
- John Gough, "MicroWorlds as a Learning Environment: Years 5 - 7: Tools Versus Thinking", Symp. on Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Healthand Environmental Education, Deakin University December 2–3, 1996. (a pdf file)
- Logo Computer Systems Inc., 1999, Logo Philosophy and Implementation. LCSI. What is Logo? And Who Needs It?
- Papert, Seymour (1980). Mindstorms.New York:Basic Books.
- Papert, Seymour (1993)."The Children's Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. New York: Basic Books.
- Official website, LCSI